Family, friends and customers held a vigil over the weekend to honor the memory of a man who died in his grocery store in Sacramento, California.
Chue “Calvin” Yang, 60, passed away from a heart attack last Tuesday while working in his Midtown store, DJ Market, where he had spent the last 20 years.
Yang was born in Laos on Feb. 2, 1960. After the Vietnam War, he and his wife, See Xiong, fled to Thailand to escape persecution.
It was there when they married four decades ago. They eventually came to the U.S. as refugees.
The couple settled in Sacramento, where they raised four sons and seven daughters. Yang worked many jobs — from a gas station operator to a real estate agent — while attending school to earn an associate’s degree in business.
“I believed that he loved me so much. No matter what you do, he’s the same person, every single day,” Xiong told the Sacramento Bee.
Yang started at DJ Market 20 years ago. Since then, he had worked up to 13 hours a day, seven days a week.
“He had such a big heart. He cared for everybody and he never asked for anything in return,” Long, one of his sons, told CBS Sacramento.
Yang was a figure of stability in the community.
“I always used to see him walking to work. He was always taking a short jog and waving hello,” customer Warren Cain wrote on Facebook. “He was a cornerstone of our community and we’ll always cherish and honor his memory.”
Emily Wright, another customer, remembered how Yang helped her through loss.
“When my husband died, Calvin was very kind and helpful. He told me whenever you’d like to talk, you just come and talk to me. He had the perfect level of interest; he never pried, but he was clearly there for me. Not what you would expect when you go to the corner store for milk! So sweet, rare, and treasured.”
A customer reportedly found Yang unconscious in his store last Tuesday. Paramedics tried to save him, but they simply could not.
“I was driving by on Tuesday, just as the paramedics arrived. I watched for what seemed like an eternity as they tried to revive him,” customer Jonathan Hunt recalled. “By the time he was pronounced deceased a crowd of 15 to 20 people had gathered. We were all shocked and speechless but managed to comfort each other in the moment.”
A vigil for Yang was held at the store at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Dozens dropped by or watched online to commemorate his life.
“Thank you all, who shared their memories, their moments, their stories of our dad. We are grateful, he had so many to care [for] and love him the same,” wrote Ka, one of Yang’s daughters.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Yang’s memory.
Feature Images via Long Yang